The benefits of creating a career development plan (series 3-4)
By Zoe Williams
Creating your own career development plan
It’s not just those working for you who can benefit from having a clear guide to follow. It can be hard to know what targets to set yourself. What should you be looking to achieve, and how quickly?
Man on Laptop
Setting your own career goals
This shouldn’t be too dissimilar from how you work out the goals of those you manage. The difference here is that you’ll have less of a clear picture of what lies ahead. While with your team there’s a good chance you’ve already been in their shoes, the same is not true when setting individual targets. Everything will be new to you.
Top Resume offers a 10-step plan for setting up targets for yourself. Their advice includes:
Understand your team structure
It’s important to know how your team is set up, and where the team’s responsibilities lie within the company as a whole. Get your head fully around how your team is integral to the business, and plan goals accordingly.
Consult with your manager
Unless you’re running a company, there’s always likely to be someone in a more senior position than yourself. Make sure that you sit down and discuss your future aims with them. They’ll have invaluable advice for you.
Understand what you can’t control
Understand what you can’t control. As useful as a plan can be, it’s impossible to cover every potential outcome or eventuality. A good way to partially counter this is by plotting out ‘what if’ scenarios. An obvious example here is your team either not hitting their own goals or failing to perform. Safeguard yourself and the company by preparing for this possible eventuality.
Look to the future
While short-term goals are handy, it would be wise to set up a few targets based around long-term progression as well. Picture where you see yourself in five years. Now try and think how you’re going to get there. When you can visualise this, you can start building in-the-moment goals around these future ambitions.
Don’t just set work-related goals
While everything should ultimately tie back in to making you as good as possible at your job, don’t be afraid to set goals which aren’t directly work-related. Personal development shouldn’t be overlooked.
Understand what a good goal actually is
This sounds confusing, but it’s actually quite easy to work out if the goal you’ve set is appropriate. It needs to be specific, relevant, measurable, achievable and built around a timeframe which works. If your goal fits in with these parameters, it’s a solid one. This is often referred to as the SMART goal-setting method.
As we’ve discussed, this can be as frequently as you see fit. It’s important to keep on top of your aims by making sure you’re on the right path.
Get help if required
If you’re really struggling to come up with appropriate targets, you can always ask for help. This doesn’t just mean from senior team members. Anyone you manage might be able to provide advice on the kinds of targets you can set yourself.
Assess your workload
Does your work actually tie in to the goals you’ve set yourself? It could be that you’ve slowly drifted away from the specific area of the department you were in when you set your targets. Make sure you compare your workload and what you’re achieving to your annual aims.
Keep a detailed record of everything you’ve achieved. This isn’t just handy to flaunt to your bosses, but can also help you assess how well you’re progressing with your overall plan.
Working out a defined schedule
While it might not be something which seems crucial, setting rough timeframes to hit goals by can be incredibly useful. These give you a set date to aim for. Without them, there’s always the risk your goals can be overlooked in favour of day-to-day tasks.
Effectively, setting a timed schedule allows your personal goals to become a priority, rather than an afterthought. Don’t know how best to schedule your time? Don’t worry, you can make the most of the advice that Scoro provide in their blog. They say:
Find time to plan all your work
Half the battle to scheduling your work is actually finding some time to dedicate towards creating a schedule. Set aside as much as an hour at the start of the week to this. It sounds like a lot, but it could make a massive difference to how quickly you get work done for the rest of your week.
Schedule everything you do
Work out how long it takes for you to do every task you’ve been assigned. This will make things considerably easier when it comes to plotting out your week.
Stick to your schedule
It’s really important to stick to the schedule you’ve set yourself. While you can’t plan for every eventuality in your week, a schedule gives you the chance to push back on unreasonable requests which take up too much time.
At the end of every week, assess how well your planning went. What issues did you face? Were there any areas where you wasted time? If so, how can you get around that problem in the future?
Having a schedule in place can make a massive difference. It makes time management far simpler, and provides you with a means of implementing your targets throughout your working week.